May 29, 2014
Today, Thursday, May 29, is the Feast of the Ascension of Our Lord Jesus Christ (Hambardzoum), which is commemorated forty days after Easter. The universal church has celebrated the Ascension since the fourth century. According to Biblical scripture the Ascension took place in the village of Bethany, on the Mount of Olives, in the presence of our Lord’s disciples. After giving them commandments and blessings, the Lord was “received up into heaven and sat on the right hand of God,” (Mark 16:19), and “a cloud received him out of their sight,” (Acts 1:9). In the early centuries of Christianity, Hambardzoum was one of the most popular feast days for the faithful and was celebrated with merriment and festivities. There are many Armenian traditions associated with this dominical feast. Perhaps the most popular one is fortune telling (vijakakhakh).
Today he ascended with divine power on the Father’s chariot accompanied by hosts of angels who sang and cried out: You princes, lift up your gates, and the King of glory shall come in. The powers on high were amazed and in fearful voice cried out to each other: Who is this King of glory who comes in flesh and is wonderful in power? You princes, lift up your gates and the King of glory shall come in. The lordships on high sang a new song in marvelous voice: This is the Lord of glory, the Savior of the world and the deliverer of the human race. You princes, lift up your gates, and the King of glory shall come in.
(From Canon for the Ascension of Christ according to the Liturgical Canons of the Armenian Apostolic Church)
Archbishop Oshagan will travel overseas this weekend to join His Holiness Aram on an official visit to the Vatican and His Holiness Pope Francis. The visit to the Vatican is from Tuesday, June 3 to Friday, June 6. A number of clergy and lay individuals from dioceses under the jurisdiction of the Holy See of Cilicia have been invited to join the Catholicos’ entourage.
Archbishop Oshagan wishes to express his sincere thanks for the many condolence messages he received following the death of his mother, Diramayr Mary Choloyan, who passed away on May 7 in Beirut.
“I am grateful for the many messages and cards received by mail, email, telephone, and donations in lieu-of-flowers. My family and I were truly comforted by the many thoughtful and caring expressions of sympathy,” His Eminence said.
Prelacy parishes offered prayers and blessed the tricolor flag on the occasion of the 96th anniversary of the first Armenian Republic (May 28), and the 23rd anniversary of the current Republic of Armenia (September 21), last Sunday.
St. Illuminator’s Cathedral, New York City.
Bishop Anoushavan Tanielian assisted by Rev. Fr. Mesrob Lakissian, blesses the tricolor flag at St. Illuminator’s Cathedral in New York City.
Bishop Anoushavan, Der Mesrob, with altar servers, Homenetmen scouts, and Mr. Sahak Sarkissian who attended the service on behalf of the Armenian Mission to the United Nations.
Saint Asdvadzadzin Church, Whitinsville, Massachusetts
Archpriest Fr. Aram Stepanian blesses the tricolor flag at St. Asdvadzadzin Church in Whitinsville.
John Heffern, the United States Ambassador to Armenia, was received at the Prelacy offices last Friday, May 23, where he met with the Prelate and members of the Prelacy’s Executive Council, and several guests.
The Ambassador has been traveling in the U.S. and meeting with the community in several cities for the purpose of encouraging potential partners with Armenia in the fields of cultural tourism, preservation, science, technology, and innovative initiatives.
Archbishop Oshagan hosted a reception for John Heffern, U.S. Ambassador to Armenia, last Friday evening, seen here with members of the Prelacy’s Executive Council. From left to right: Stephen Hagopian, Bishop Anoushavan, Archpriest Fr. Aram Stepanian, Ambassador Heffern, Archbishop Oshagan, Sarkis Ohanessian, Noubar Megerian, Hagop Antranigian, Vazken Ghougassian, Executive Director.
St. Gregory of Datev Institute will hold its 28th annual summer program for youth ages 13-18 at St. Mary of Providence Center in Elverson, Pennsylvania, from June 29 to July 6, 2014. The program is sponsored by the Prelacy’s Armenian Religious Education Council (AREC).
For information and registration, please visit the Prelacy website (
Note: Until Pentecost (June 8), each day four Gospels are read in the following order: (1) Morning—Luke; (2) Midday—John; (3) Evening—Matthew; (4) Evening dismissal—Mark.
Bible readings for Sunday, June 1, Second Palm Sunday, are: (1) Luke 19:29-48; (2) Acts 23:12-35; 1 John 5:13-21; John 12:12-23; (3) Matthew 20:29-21:17; (4) Mark 15:20-37.
The next day the great crowd that had come to the festival heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem. So they took branches of palm trees and went out to meet him, shouting, “Hosanna! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord—the King of Israel!” Jesus found a young donkey and sat on it; as it is written: “Do not be afraid; daughter of Zion. Look, your king is coming, sitting on a donkey’s colt!” His disciples did not understand these things at first; but when Jesus was glorified, then they remembered that these things had been written of him and had been done to him. So the crowd that had been with him when he called Lazarus out of the tomb and raised him from the dead continued to testify. It was also because they heard that he had performed this sign that the crowd went to meet him. The Pharisees then said to one another, “You see, you can do nothing. Look, the world has gone after him!”
Now among those who went up to worship at the festival were some Greeks. So they came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, and said to him, “Sir, we wish to see Jesus.” Philip went and told Andrew; then Andrew and Philip went and told Jesus. Jesus answered them, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified.” (John 12:12-23)
For a listing of the coming week’s Bible readings click here.
This Sunday, June 1, is Second Palm Sunday (Yerkrort Tzaghkazard). The seventh Sunday of Easter is called Second Palm Sunday because of the readings on that day. Beginning with New Sunday and continuing until Pentecost, the Armenian Church reads from the four Gospels every day in their proper order. Luke is read in the morning; John at midday; Matthew at the beginning of the evening hour; and Mark at the end of the evening hour. The sections related to Christ’s entry into Jerusalem coincide with the seventh Sunday of Easter, hence the designation of “Second Palm Sunday.”
There are several feast days in our liturgical calendar dedicated to St. Gregory the Illuminator, but according to tradition he is also remembered on the fourth day of Hambardzoum, known as Second Palm Sunday. During the years of Gregory’s imprisonment in the deep pit his guardian angel would appear daily to give him nourishment. On the fourth day of the Ascension the angel did not come, and the next day Gregory asked why. The angel told him that the fourth day of Ascension is the feast day for his celestial army of the 4th rank, and he was permitted to remain in the heavens to celebrate the feast day and enjoy Christ in heaven.
A tradition has come down to us concerning the mysterious meaning of this great and wonderful feast; the Enlightener of our souls heard from his guardian angel: On this day there is a great feast in the heavens in my rank. For during the ascent of the heavenly One from earth the heavenly spirits in their ranks celebrated this event with rejoicing, beginning with the angels and concluding with the thrones. The Illuminator’s guardian angel being from the fourth rank hastened to share in the joyful celebration of which the angel in the flesh learned when he asked him a question. This great mystery took place for the salvation of the logical of angels and mankind so that both of them might unite in one.
(From the Liturgical Canons of the Armenian Church for the first Sunday after Christ’s Ascension, known as Second Palm Sunday).
On Monday, May 26, His Holiness Aram I traveled to Armenia for a three day visit during which he and His Holiness Karekin II, Catholicos of All Armenians, participated in a meeting of the 100th anniversary committee, the annual meeting of the All Armenian Fund, and presided over the Church’s committees on rituals and sainthood.

The chairman of the Armenian Democratic Liberal Party (Ramgavar) and members of the ADL Central Committee met with His Holiness Aram I last week in Antelias, Lebanon. During their meeting they discussed the plans for the commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide. They agreed that Armenia and the Diaspora should work together closely, emphasizing the importance of speaking with one voice to Turkey and the world.

His Holiness Aram I presided over a special requiem service following the Holy Liturgy last Sunday in memory of the martyrs of the war of independence and the first Armenian Republic of 1918. After the service, the faithful gathered in the main reception hall of the Catholicosal residence for a cultural event presented by the students at the Seminary. In his closing message, the Catholicos reminded the people that May 28 remains the symbol of the determination of Armenians to safeguard their independence. “Freedom and independence are a gift of God and no one has the right to take it away from an individual or a nation. With this commitment and determination we are working towards strengthening our second independent Republic of Armenia. We should admit that we have problems of corruption, our people are emigrating and the social and economic conditions of our people are not improving. In view of this situation we cannot remain silent. We should all contribute to nation building. The celebration of May 28 every year should be an occasion for all of us to recommit ourselves to safeguarding the independence of our homeland and preserving its integrity and the well being of all its citizens.”
Habitat for Humanity International is well-known worldwide for their commitment to bring people together to build homes, communities, and hope.
Habitat for Humanity Armenia that has been working in Armenia since the year 2000, seeks to serve low-income families to improve their living conditions. Habitat has been building homes primarily in the rural and border areas of Armenia. Each energy-efficient house costs about $2,500.
Habitat Armenia is looking for volunteers to work during the summer building homes. Volunteers must pay their own expenses, including travel, and are also obligated to pay a participation fee of $200.
Thus far Habitat Armenia has helped more than 2,500 families in Armenia and has hosted more than 800 volunteers that have worked with families and local communities. Volunteers are not needed to have construction experience.
Anyone interested in volunteering to work with Habitat Armenia should contact Bishop Anoushavan at the Prelacy by email (; letter (138 E. 39th Street, New York, NY 10016); or telephone (212-689-7810).

The annual telethon of the Armenian National Committee of America will take place Sunday, June 1. The six-hour nationwide broadcast will benefit the ANCA Endowment Fund. Go to for information about the broadcast and to donate.
(Prepared by the Armenian National Education Committee[ANEC])
Death of Vazken Shoushanian
(June 2, 1941)
Vazken Shoushanian, a talented young writer of the “School of Paris,” was also one of the orphans of the Armenian Genocide.
He was born in Rodosto (nowadays Tekirdag), a city of Eastern Tracia, on February 9, 1902. His birth name was Onnig. He studied and graduated from the local elementary schools. In September 1915 the Shoushanian family was deported to Asia Minor, from where they continued on the exile routes. Onnig lost his father, mother, brother, and sister on the deportation routes between 1915 and 1917. Meanwhile, he had reached Aleppo in February 1916. The young orphan, deprived of any family support, managed to survive doing various menial work in Aleppo and elsewhere until the end of the war, when he went to Constantinople and then to Rodosto.
In 1919, Shoushanian entered the Agriculture School of Armash, and moved to the Republic of Armenia with the rest of his schoolmates in September 1920. Caught in the whirlwind of the end of the independence and the beginning of the Soviet regime, the students finally left the country and returned to Constantinople in May 1921.
In July 1922, Shoushanian came to the United States, but he was not admitted in Ellis Island due to trachoma and he had to return to Constantinople. Months later, he managed to travel to France. He became a factory worker, and in the meantime, he studied agronomy from 1923-1926 in Valabre, near Marseilles. Meanwhile, he had started to write poetry, prose, and essays in the Armenian press of the Diaspora under the name Vazken Shoushanian, including Hairenik daily and monthly, in Boston. He had also become a member of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation and in his twenties he represented the party at the Socialist International. He would pursue studies of Social Sciences in Paris and graduate in 1930.
From 1931-1932 he was part of the literary group Menk, which published the homonymous journal and gathered, for a short while, the most promising names in Armenian literature in the Diaspora, such as Shahan Shahnour, Zareh Vorpouni, and others.
Shoushanian was already a noted writer when in 1932-1933 he became entangled in the internal struggles of the A.R.F. and was left outside the party. However, as he wrote in a journal entry of 1939, he considered himself a member, “whether I have a party card or not.”
In the last years of his life, Shoushanian remained on the margin of Armenian life. He worked at a French boarding school in Rouen from 1933-1939. The school was closed due to the war in 1940 and Shoushanian made a dangerous trip to bring the students to their homes. After a seven-year absence, he then returned to Paris.
He caught pneumonia in the spring of 1941 and died practically alone, forgotten by almost everyone, in a Paris hospital. He did not have a tomb and was buried in an unmarked grave.
Few of his books were published in his lifetime; some remained scattered in the press, while others were left unpublished. His archives, in the end, went to Armenia, and some of his work started to be published in the 1950s, with publication still continuing until this day. A famous passage in his Journal was a testimony of his love for the Armenian language: “Armenian language, how much I love you! No girl on earth can brag that has received so much warm affection, so much love, so much entreaties from me. The fidelity that I feel towards you is more powerful than this miserable life of ours. I would like to study you until my last moment, your ultimate accents and your ultimate words, your internal music and the road you have traced in history. You are our prayer and our pleasure, Armenian language, I love you.”
Previous entries in “This Week in Armenian History” are on the Prelacy’s web site (
A fire on Tuesday (May 27) caused minor damage at the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem. The fire was accidental when curtains caught fire from a candle, according to a church official. There was some smoke damage to the walls. The church is built over the grotto where tradition says Jesus was born. The church was originally commissioned in 327 AD by Constantine and his mother Helena. The original basilica was destroyed by fire and a new one was built in 565 AD by Justinian. The church, which is a World Heritage Site, is administered jointly by the Roman Catholic, Greek Orthodox, and Armenian Apostolic churches. Unfortunately, it is also on the list of 100 Most Endangered Sites by the World Monuments Fund, because of serious water damage from its general state of disrepair. Any preservation projects require the cooperation of the three custodial churches as well as the Israeli government and the Palestinian Authority. Alas, a herculean task.
The Prelacy’s Bookstore has an extensive collection of books (in Armenian and English) about the Genocide including histories, historical novels, memoirs, eye witness testimonies, essays, and poetry. From now through next April we will feature one or two books each week from the Bookstore’s collection.
Story of the Near East Relief
By James L. Barton
By mid-July of 1915, the American ambassador to Turkey, Henry Morgenthau, Sr., realized the Turks were carrying out a “campaign of race extermination.” He asked the U.S. State Department to form a committee to head a massive relief effort. What began as the “Armenian Atrocities Committee” became the Near East Relief that made possible the dramatic rebirth of the Armenian people and became a model for future relief and charitable organizations.
379 pages, hardcover, $25.00
The Forty Days of Musa Dagh
By Franz Werfel
The original English translation by Geoffrey Dunlop excised approximately a quarter of the original two-volume text of Franz Werfel’s masterpiece. Almost eight decades later, poet and translator James Reidel has revised the 1934 translation incorporating the pages that were omitted.
894 pages, softcover, $22.95

To order contact the Prelacy Bookstore by email ( or by telephone (212-689-7810).
The crises in Syria, including the recent upheaval in Kessab, require our financial assistance. Please keep this community in your prayers, your hearts, and your pocketbooks.

Armenian Prelacy
138 E. 39th Street
New York, NY 10016

Checks payable to: Fund for Syrian Armenian Relief

Thank you for your help
May 31—The Armenian Bar Association presents a panel discussion about “Ongoing Legal Efforts and Challenges to Preserve Armenian Antiquities and Cultural Property,” at Association of the Bar of the City of New York, 42 West 44th Street, New York City (between 5th and 6th Avenues), 3:30 to 4:30 pm. Free admission. For information: Denise Darmanian or 917-848-0968.
May 31St. Stephen’s Church, New Britain, Connecticut, Ladies’ Guild Cooking Class, “Short Cuts to Armenian Cooking,” 11 am, Homemade Lahmajoon. $15 for each class; $40 for three classes.
June 1—Ladies Guild Annual Brunch, St. Sarkis Church, Douglaston, New York.
June 1St. Stephen’s Church, New Britain, Connecticut, Sunday School trip to Boston.
June 5—Avak luncheon at noon, St. Gregory Church, 158 Main Street, North Andover, Massachusetts. Speaker: U.S. Army Major Felix Gregorian, “To America With Love,” on his pending fifth deployment to the Middle East.
June 8St. Stephen’s Church, New Britain, Connecticut, Ladies’ Guild Hot Dog Social.
June 15St. Gregory Church, annual Father’s Day Picnic, 12 noon to 5 pm on the church grounds at 135 Goodwin Street, Indian Orchard, Massachusetts. Enjoy many favorite Armenian dinners including shish kebab and rice pilaf. Baked goods available for purchase. Raffle, Armenian music and dancing, and activities for children. Admission and parking are free. For information, 413-543-4763.
June 16-17St. Sarkis Church, Dearborn, Michigan, Sunday School Teens Seminar at Colombiere Conference and Retreat Center, Clarkston, Michigan.
June 23Holy Trinity Church, Worcester, Massachusetts, 11th Annual Golf Outing, Sterling National Country Club, Sterling, Massachusetts. Tee off: 9 am, shotgun start, scramble format. $145 per person includes: Golf, cart, breakfast, dinner, prizes, raffles, and chance to win a two-year lease on a 2014 Land Rover with a hole in one. For information: Kap Kaprielian, or 508-872-9629.
June 24-26—Vacation Bible Camp for preschool (age 4) to 6th grade students at St. Sarkis Church, Dearborn, Michigan, from 10 am to 2 pm. Religious activities, lessons, crafts, and games. For information: 313-336-6200.
June 28St. Stephen’s Church, New Britain, Connecticut, Ladies Guild Cooking Class, “Short Cuts to Armenian Cooking,” 11 am, Mock Manti. $15 for each class; $40 for three classes.
June 29 – July 6, 2014: St. Gregory of Datev Institute Summer Program for youth ages 13-18 at the St. Mary of Providence Center in Elverson, Pennsylvania, sponsored by the Prelacy’s Armenian Religious Education Council (AREC). For information, contact the AREC office at 212.689.7810 or at
July 14—39th Annual St. Sarkis Golf & Tennis Classic, Meadowbrook Country Club, Northville, Michigan. $250 donation for golf breakfast, lunch, and banquet. $125 donation banquet only. Reservations: 313-336-6200.
July 19—“A Hye Summer A Night IX,” sponsored by the Ladies Guild of Sts. Vartanantz Church, Providence, and Armenian Relief Society Ani Chapter, 7 pm to 12 midnight. Dinner Dance at Alpine Country Club, Pippen Orchard Drive, Cranston, Rhode Island, featuring Hachig Kazarian, John Berberian, Ken Kalajian, and Jason Naroian. Dinner-Dance, $50; dance only after 8:30 pm, $35 (with student ID $25). RSVP before June 30. Call Joyce Yeremian, 401-354-8770, or Joyce Bagdasarian, 401-434-4467,
July 26St. Stephen’s Church, New Britain, Connecticut, Ladies Guild Cooking Class, “Short Cuts to Armenian Cooking,” 11 am, Boereg. $15 for each class; $40 for three classes.
August 17St. Sarkis Church (Dearborn) Grape Blessing Family Fun Picnic at Kensington Park, Kensington, Michigan. Good food, music, biking, soccer, dancing, magician, swimming, playscape, kids games, door prizes, face painting, tavloo tournament and more.
September 18Sts. Vartanantz Church, Ridgefield, New Jersey, 12th Annual Golf Classic, River Vale Country Club, River Vale, New Jersey. Rain or Shine. 11 am registration and Grilled Lunch Buffet; 1 pm Tee Off. Format: Shotgun Scramble (All player levels welcome). Golf Outing Reservation: $195; limited to first 128 paid golf reservations. Reservation includes: Grilled lunch buffet, dinner banquet, golf, cart, and range balls. Contests and Prizes. Sponsorships available. For information: 201-943-2950.
October 3St. Sarkis Armenian Church, Douglaston, New York, Saturday School Dinner Dance Gala.
Web pages of the parishes can be accessed through the Prelacy’s web site.
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